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1 BERMUDA PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM GRADUATION AND EXTERNAL EXAMINATION RESULTS MINISTER OF EDUCATION THE HONOURABLE DAME JENNIFER SMITH, DBE, JP DHUML, MP 29 NOVEMBER 2012 Good Afternoon and thank you for coming. I welcome the presence of the Permanent Secretary of Education Mr. Warren Jones, the Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Wendy McDonell and the Director of Academic Services, Dr. Llewellyn Simmons. My promise to engage in wider consultation made as a result of Chief Justice Ian Kawaley s judgment has seen me meet with Primary School PTA s and hold two public town hall meetings since the beginning of the school year. At those meetings, we have shared the graduation and examination results directly with parents and the general public. Given that widely publicised process, it has been interesting to note the media allegation that we are not willing to share these results or that we have something to hide. Nothing could be farther from the truth! To set the record straight results were sent directly to schools in August, then directly to the parents of the students who sat the exams, and then shared in PTA meetings by Principals. In addition, the results were provided to the general public at our first Town Hall Meeting on Thursday September 27 th and our second meeting on Thursday, November 1st. It was then shown on the Government Television Station CITV - on an almost daily basis. We are here today because I promised that, once we concluded the town hall meetings, I would share the results with the media. While the results are worthy of celebration, they also highlight that we still have work to do. I begin with the 2012 Graduation Results: The Board of Education has set a graduation target requiring students to have a minimum grade-point-average of 2.0 [the equivalent of a 70% average across their subjects and a minimum of 104 credits 62 credits in required subjects and 42 credits in elective subjects]. Ninety-five percent of our senior school students graduated. This means that two hundred and seventeen out of two hundred and twenty-nine senior school students achieved a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 70%. External Examination Results: In the 2011/2012 school year, a total of one thousand two hundred and twelve (1212) external examinations were taken by five hundred and six (506) public senior school students in the subjects of English, Mathematics, Science, Foreign languages, Business Studies, Information & Communication Technology, Physical 1

2 Education, Family Studies and The Arts (including Art & Design, Drama, Dance and Music). It is of particular note that the number of students sitting external examinations in 2012 doubled over the previous year as a result of all S2 students sitting the Cambridge International Examinations in English, Mathematics and Science. Two years earlier than they have in the past. An overall pass rate of 89% was achieved, with 28% attaining a grade of C or higher. In addition to the Cambridge examinations, senior students also had the opportunity to sit external examinations from Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA); and Edexcel. Primary and Middle School Students participated in the Cambridge Primary and the Cambridge Secondary 1 Checkpoint examinations. Both examinations are diagnostic and provide feedback on individual strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum areas of English, Mathematics and Science. The Cambridge curriculum has provided useful information about strengths and weaknesses,and where improvement is needed. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Primary 6 students achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in English; 70% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in mathematics; and 85% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Science. [The Board of Education has set a goal for 75% of students to perform at level 3 or above by 2015]. You should note that primary students are performing just one level below the worldwide Cambridge International average in both English and Science. At the Middle Three level (M3) 74% of our students achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Cambridge Secondary 1 Checkpoint Examinations, in the subject of English; 60% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Mathematics; and 74% achieved grades between satisfactory and excellent in Science. We note that we have work to do to raise the number of students achieving at grade 3 and above. The Bermudian 2012 results are closely aligned with the international scores in Science and English at the primary level. Of eight-thousand, eight hundred and fifty international candidates 74% obtained grades between 3.0 and 6.0 in English 67% of Bermudian candidates obtained the same grades. Just 7% points off. Of the eight thousand, eight hundred and sixty-two international Science candidates, 60% obtained grades between 3.0 and 6.0 Bermudian candidates scored the exact same percentage. In Mathematics, 72% of the nine thousand and six international candidates obtained grades between 3.0 and 6.0 compared with 47% of Bermudian candidates. This is obviously an area needing improvement. It is also important to note that we also have accelerated students. 2

3 I am pleased to report that seventeen (17) Sandys Secondary Middle School students passed the IGCSE English examination and thirteen (13) passed the Mathematics examination. Now, I would like to share the results of Senior School Students who sat the external IGCSE and GCSE examinations. In English, there was a ninety-one percent (91%) pass rate with thirty-eight percent (38%) at grade C or better. Three hundred and twenty-five (325) students took the examination. In Mathematics there was a seventy-four percent (74%) pass rate with eight percent (8%) at grade C or better. Two hundred and ninety-nine (299) students took the examination. In Science there was a ninety-five percent (95%) pass rate with twenty-five percent (25%) at grade C or better. Two hundred and seventy-eight (278) students took the science examinations (which included Coordinated Science, Combined Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Environmental Management). In Foreign Languages there was a one hundred percent (100%) pass rate with sixty-eight percent (68%) at grade C or better. Fifty-three (53) students took examinations in French and Spanish. The Arts recorded a ninety-eight percent (98%) pass rate with forty-one percent (41%) at grade C or better. Ninety (90) students took examinations in Art, Art and Design, Dance, Drama and Music. Business and Technology recorded a ninety-two percent (92%) pass rate with eight percent (8%) at grade C or better. Sixty-three (63) students took examinations in Business Studies, Media Studies and Information & Communication Technology. In Physical Education there was a one hundred percent (100%) pass rate with sixty-eight percent (68%) at grade C or better. Thirty-one (31) students took the examination. Family Studies also recorded a one hundred percent (100%) pass rate with just three (3) students taking the examination in Food and Nutrition. The next figures are a summary of the subjects taken at the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) level. In AS English there was an eighty-nine percent (89%) pass rate with thirty-four percent (34%) at grade C or better. Fifty-six (56) students took the AS Examination. The introduction of the Cambridge Curriculum for core subjects in 2010 was in response to Recommendation 9 of the Hopkins Report. According to Cambridge International Examinations, a predictor of seventy-five percent (75%) of students worldwide will achieve ratings between satisfactory and excellent. Bermuda s P6 students exceeded the worldwide predictor by 13% and 4.8% in English and Science respectively. 3

4 In Mathematics, they performed 10.4% points below the worldwide predictor compared to their counterparts in 160 other jurisdictions. Before I conclude, I must note that Cambridge does not normally refer to passes and fails in the context of the IGCSE. The grades they issue are intended to recognise what candidates know and can do. Different grades recognise the different qualities of performance. The only outcome Cambridge regards as a failure is a U (meaning ungraded). An ungraded outcome occurs when the candidate s level of performance falls below what can be reliably recognised in that examination. Cambridge recognises that Examination results are frequently used by universities or employers, as a basis for decisions about whether particular people are suited to particular roles. Examination results may help to determine whether a person s English is good enough for an administrative post, or whether their Physics is good enough to begin an engineering degree. Often, users of examination results will have a notion of which grade meets their requirements, and they may therefore treat different grades as unsuitable for their purposes. Mr. Anthony Dawson of Cambridge International Examinations has said that, Governments, commentators or societies sometimes decide to regard a particular grade as the minimum acceptable standard. When this is not related to a particular purpose, it can be somewhat arbitrary. More seriously though, it can have a distorting effect on the education that learners receive. The reason is that schools come under pressure to maximise the proportion of learners achieving this pass grade, and consequently they focus their efforts and resources on those learners who they consider to be in this part of the ability spectrum. The most able and the least able are neglected, since they cannot affect the percentage passing. Although this consequence may be unintended, it is a utilitarian reason to avoid focussing on a particular grade as the pass grade. End quote. Bermuda s public Education system is a comprehensive system. This means that we teach to all student abilities and levels. We do not have, nor should we have, the discretion of selecting students, or only putting forward certain students. The decision to implement the Cambridge Curriculum was to provide an international benchmark to compare our students to their counterparts in other jurisdictions. The Bermuda public education system is thriving all you have to do to see examples of the good work our students are doing is read the weekly Young Observer Page, Thursdays in the Royal Gazette - we have made material and tangible progress and the momentum is strong! Sustaining and building that momentum will require motivated, engaged and supportive parents and community members. 4

5 On the evidence shown today, our children, all of our children, are making positive strides in our system. Yes, we do have work to do, but let s also celebrate these positive outcomes. I want to conclude by commending teachers, parents, students and Department of Education staff for the success achieved to date. I now call the Commissioner of Education to join me in case you have any technical questions. 5

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